The Center for Scientific Information Technology sets out to create an alternative to Google – Democracy concerns in the background

We want a European and transparent analogue to the commercial waste of search engines.

We want a European and transparent analogue to the commercial waste of search engines.

Property of the Finnish state and universities CSC – Center for Scientific Information Technologies is joining forces with 13 other renowned European research centers to develop an open European web search infrastructure.

The starting point of the OpenWebSearch.EU project is the concern about the imbalance in the search engine market. Online searches are dominated by a few giant players such as Google , Microsoft , Baidu and Yandex .

“Online searches are dominated by a few companies with primarily commercial interests. Therefore, the information we receive from them is always a trade-off between maximizing the company’s ad sales and overall benefit. Can we as consumers then trust that the search result is fair and comprehensive,” the director describes in the press release Per Öster from CSC.

As the information provided by search engines is not subject to public scrutiny, the imbalance may threaten democracy and limit the innovation potential of the European research field and economy, the announcement describes.

The aim of the project is to introduce and pilot infrastructure and technologies on the basis of which both public and commercial services can be created.

The European Commission has already approved the funding of the project for 8.5 million euros under the research and innovation program Horizon Europe.

Over the next three years, researchers will develop a European Open Web Index (OWI) as the basis for a new European Internet search.

In addition, the project creates the basis for an open and extensible European Open Web Search and Analysis Infrastructure (OWSAI), which is said to be based on European values, principles, legislation and standards.

CSC is involved in the project in three areas: development of an open search index and storage infrastructure, development of language models and ecosystem, and sustainability of open online search.

“We are making a long-term commitment to this project, which opens up great opportunities for new services, especially based on search indexes formed by Finnish and Swedish content,” says the director in the press release. Hanna-Marie Puuska from CSC.

OpenWebSearch.EU is the first EU-funded project to accelerate the future of web search. The project will start in September 2022. The 14 participating partner institutions will initially collaborate for three years.

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